Communication is an essential part of everyday life. There are many things which have effect on communication, technology having a very large effect. Through the increase of communication technology, there has been a decrease in the quality of effective communication. While considering the theory of Priestley's Paradox, the lack of interpersonal communication in new forms of technology have significantly affected the quality of communication. Modern technologies decrease the quality of communications through the lack of verbal and non-verbal feedback, the distortion of messages and also the unequal access to forms of these technologies. Verbal and non-verbal elements of interpersonal communication have effectively declined due to technology.
The most impacted area of communication in society today is interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication is referenced as communication between two or more people which try to create and understand meaning (Turner & West 2009: 8). Throughout interpersonal communication there can be noise. Noise is anything which can distort or prevent communication (Eunson 2008: 18). Interpersonal communication has many elements which contribute to quality communication.
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Interpersonal communication requires verbal and non-verbal feedback, which is not given effectively through modern technologies. The quality of effective communication is rapidly decreased with the increase of technology. This type of communication (interpersonal communication) has two main elements, verbal and non-verbal skills. Verbal communication is the use of languages, words, sounds and letters and uses great emphasis on tone and pitch. Modern technology therefore decreases the quality of communication because verbal communication is not always possible. Non-verbal communication is communication through only visual forms. Non-verbal consists of gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and numerous other signals of the human body (Eunson 2008: 260). This non-verbal element of communication however cannot be seen through most technologies so distorts the message to the receiver. Both verbal and non-verbal communication skills assist, distort and block communication between individuals (Eunson 2008: 286). The theory of Priestley's Paradox is most relevant when considering the quality of communication through technologies is declining. Email is an example of modern technology which has an impact of the quality of communication. Through email, the receiver cannot communicate using verbal and non-verbal communication. This distortion is happening with all types of technology and is having affect on the interactions of individuals and creating problems. Without face-to-face verbal and non-verbal interactions the sender is unable to make assumptions on the receivers' perceptions of the messages. Some particular new technologies have the ability for messages to be distorted excessively due to the language used.
Technology has decreased quality of communication because it can cause misunderstanding through abbreviations that distort messages. This particularly effects our society's younger generation. Generation Y in particularly are media interactionists, not knowing a world without media and technology (Kundanis 2003: 43). An example of technology which is most commonly the source of abbreviation is SMS (short messaging service). Evidently, abbreviations are a weak substitute for body language, oral and tonal expression. These are replaced by using uppercase lettering and quirky symbols (emoticons) which leads to misinterpretation while decoding the message as there is no shared meaning of the context (Danet 2001: 17). The English language is often comprised to become shortened abbreviations and phrases. This language has since blended into the everyday modern society causing the younger generations to be less likely using proper English language. While communicating through technology, the sender and receiver need to have a clear understanding of one another's abbreviations and context or else the message will be distorted. This may then lead to a breakdown in communication if the receiver is unable to decode the message given (Eunson 2008: 14). This is also evident as there is a digital divide between people with the unequal access to technology.
The decrease in quality of communication is due to technology not being equally accessible for our whole society. Priestley's Paradox theory expresses the point that people coming from low -economical societies have a greater quality of communication rather than people coming from a higher-economical society because it is filled with modern communication technologies(Eunson 2008: 5). There is a digital divide between people due to new forms of technology. This causes distortion in communication because of the misunderstanding of messages that are received through modern technology. It is now expected of a person to have knowledge of modern technologies which may not be universally accepted due to the unequal access of technology (Turner & West 2009: 105). Modern technology-driven communication is constantly revolving, developing and expanding (Eunson 2008: 4). They are expensive and therefore low income earners would not be able update technologies frequently. The digital divide is not only based on this however, there are many other issues. The accessibility of modern technology is affected by geographical location, income status, culture, education and also age (Mossberger, Tolbert & Stansbury 2003: 15-23). This causes the decrease in effective communication and interpersonal communication as everyone does not have the same available technology.
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New technologies have significantly decreased the quality of effective communication. Ultimately interpersonal communication elements such as verbal and non-verbal skills are not able to be effectively used through modern technologies. This can distort messages in communication just like abbreviations can. Both people participating in the communication need to have similar understanding of the context and language or else the quality of communication will be diminished. The digital divide because of the unequal access of modern technology also has an impact of the quality of communication. Priestley's Paradox theory suggests that the quality of communication is minimised because of new technologies. This theory is most evident in modern communication therefore modern technology has decreased the quality of communication.